I used to be a fan of Harold Ford Jr. When he was a Congressman from Tennessee, I respected his work ethic, his smarts, his ambition. And I admired his audacity in seeking the Senate from Tennessee — a high hurdle for any Democrat, but especially one who is black.
But he’s making a fool of himself as he tries out for a New York Senate race; he looks like an elitist, opportunistic flip-flopper — a caricature of his former self. As a conservative Democrat, he held positions with which I disagreed. But I gave him credit for at least believing in those positions.
I’m not only deeply disappointed. I’m embarrassed for him. He’s already been widely derided for an unfortunate interview he gave to The New York Times earlier this month in which he hit all the wrong notes: He allowed as to how he’s seen all of the city’s five boroughs by helicopter, with wealthy acquaintances; he admitted that he doesn’t take the subway much because he’s chauffeured to NBC’s headquarters for his talking head appearances on MSNBC; and he’s a fan of the Giants because co-owner Steve Tisch is a close personal friend.
Ford is also a Wall Street banker, at a time when Americans are not overly fond of Wall Street. All in all, that’s pretty poor start for a guy considering a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator.
But that’s not the worst. The worst part is Ford’s efforts to distance himself from every political position he held as a Tennessee Congressman. As a Nashville reporter puts it:
Instead, he’s denying any significant alteration of his politics. Ford asserts that he has not suddenly become pro-gun-control, gay-friendly, pro-choice, and pro-immigrant. . .
I covered Junior’s campaign for U.S. Senate against Bob Corker. In 2006, Ford wanted desperately to leave voters with the impression he abhorred gay marriage and thought it offensive to his faith. He wanted voters to believe that his few votes to restrict abortion amounted to a pro-life record. He wanted voters to believe he had no intention of making any moves against the NRA on firearms legislation. And, more than anything, he tried to get to the political right of his opponent with a fierce advocacy of clamping down on “illegals.”
For his flip-flops, the smart and eloquent blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates has compared Ford to George Wallace, who was a progressive on race until he realized he couldn’t win elections in Alabama that way. And the brilliant comedian Stephen Colbert ripped Ford to shreds, naming him “alpha dog of the week” for “knowing who you are and who you might be in 15 minutes.”
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Alpha Dog of the Week – Harold Ford Jr.|
Please Harold, give it up while you have a shred or two of self-respect left.